There is a view among some neuroscientists (such as Anil Seth and Donald Hoffman, etc) that our perceptual experience of the world is largely (or wholly?) constructed, projected, hallucinated, and so not real. They feel that the brain-body actively constructs or hallucinates perceptual experience, and so creates a world that doesn’t truly exist in that manner.
People who are influenced by this view tend to object when Krishnamurti talks about direct perception, about perception without images, because they think that science has disproved such a possibility, and so it is not worth taking seriously.
So I thought it may be worth exploring it a little, without wanting to go into excessive scientific details about the neurological mechanics of perception.
In thinking of Krishnamurti’s teaching, it is clear that he makes a distinction between bodily perception, the senses, and the psychological movement of thought. The one can influence the other - as happens in most people - but they are not the same thing. The senses have been put together over millions and millions of years, through a slow evolution that started out with the simplest life-forms, and slowly evolved to create our senses of vision, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, proprioception, and cognition, thought (thought can be regarded as one of the senses).
But in human beings the development of thought has become exponential in a way it hasn’t for any other animal, and exponential only from around 100 thousand years ago.
The part of the brain considered to be responsible for the activity of thought is called the neocortex (and more particularly, the pre-frontal cortex). According to the scientists the neocortex evolved from a simpler forms that can still be found in mice (with whom humans shared a common ancestor 100 million years ago), and much later on with monkeys (with whom humans shared a common ancestor 25 million years ago), culminating in the brain of modern hominids (who shared a basic anatomy from about 300 thousand years ago). Modern human behaviour - from which can infer further developments of brain activity - is believed to date from between 160 thousand to 60 thousand years ago (Australian aboriginal cultures date back to this time), while the invention of agriculture and modern human settlements dates back to only 15 thousand years ago or so; with the great early civilisations in Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley dating to around 5 thousand years ago. The rapid evolution of culture religion and technology dates from this time.
So while the brain-body’s capacities for sensory perception has been many millions of years in the making, the advent of psychological thought probably only goes back thousands of years. This is why as a very loose analogy one might say that the mechanics of sense perception are like the hardware we are born with, while psychological thought is like the software our brains make use of as a supplementary extension of perception.
For Krishnamurti the mechanics of perception - that is, how the brain organises sensory information and processes it according to various neurological processes - is not a question. A healthy brain, perceiving or sensing in a healthy way, is sufficient.
What Krishnamurti questions is the role of psychological thought in our lives, what place has psychological knowledge, etc. Does the brain need to be occupied with psychological memories, mental images, incessant mental chatter?
So he is not questioning the role that ordinary perceptual cognition - the anatomical brain’s healthy perceptual functioning - plays in perception. His concern is with psychological thought, and how it interferes in perception.